For the life of a very special child

State Representative Karianne Lisonbee and State Senator Curt Bramble have co-sponsored a bill protecting a baby from being aborted solely because it has or has been diagnosed with Down Syndrome (HB 205) – and it sounds altogether reasonable to me. Why should Down Syndrome be a death sentence? Or, if focusing solely on the feelings and rights of the mother, why does a personal preference outweigh the inherent dignity of a Down Syndrome child? For the bill’s pro-abortion opponents, the biggest excuse in opposing the bill is the law. Since…

It’s time for real ethics reform

With a part-time Legislature, Utah is prone to difficulties with ethics in at least two ways. First, there always is the possibility that legislators will legislate matters pertaining to their own business interests. Second, and the more serious concern, legislators may create business interests because of their political power. More often than not, the public debate over government ethics reforms centers on systemic issues. Time is the biggest one. It is both a blessing and a curse. When the Legislature is not in session it cannot do any harm. The…

A better approach to the gender pay gap

This legislative session Senator Anderegg created a bill to try to address a pay gap that exists between men and women. This seems like a popular cause to get behind, though. Who could be against equal pay? But we me must make sure we are taking not only a data-driven approach but that we are gathering the right data. If we look at the wrong data we will come up will come up with the wrong approach that will have unintended consequences. We also need to be careful to listen…

Political accountability

As Donald Trump implodes, and (perhaps) takes the Republican Party with him, finger-pointing abounds. Why should I resist the temptation? I have written before in this space about my dismay that Republican Party officials signed on with Trump long before there was any need to. Whatever one may say about the need for party loyalty after Cleveland, Trump’s unacceptability to Utah Republicans was glaringly obvious when Utahns For Trump was organized, way back in February. Three elected party leaders were part of this effort, and my finger is now pointing…

Senator Dabakis silences hundreds of San Juan County citizens

Utah State Senator Jim Dabakis posted the following picture on his Facebook page on August 5, 2016. Dabakis states that US Senator Mike Lee conjured up this picture to scare his “MINIONS” in to demanding “NO MONUMENT”. Citizens of San Juan County who are being directly affected by the monument if designated began to reply to Dabakis post. As comments were posted opposing the National Monument or questioning Dabakis about the so-called “Lee” photo they were deleted and the person making the post was blocked from his page. For example…

Senator Jerry Stevenson: Please support IT Academy

During the Session we approved an appropriation for our IT Academy, which unfortunately was vetoed by the Governor. This is an excellent program that provides high school students the opportunity to graduate from high school certified in Microsoft and other software programs, which helps these students gain employment straight out of high school. I appreciate that this program offers these high school graduates the potential to support themselves through higher education as they find employment with their certification. I have attached a letter from the IT Academy and a PDF with more information…

Utah Senate: Senator Howard Stephenson veto override statement

Dear Colleagues, I write for the purpose of providing you with context and information related to the Governor’s veto of SB 2, Item 6 (found on lines 205-220). I strongly believe that we should exercise our Constitutional authority to override this veto. This veto significantly impacts funding for important educational programs in our state which we had carefully studied and vetted through the legislative process. In his veto letters, the Governor explains his reasoning for vetoing this item – but I don’t believe he had complete context, or accurate data,…

How well did Utah taxpayers and economy do in the 2016 session?

By Derek Monson From the Sutherland Institute perspective, the 2016 legislative session was a good one for both taxpayers and the economy. Taxpayers were spared from varied attempts to extract more money from their wallets, including a proposal from some in the business community to take 20 percent more of Utah taxpayers’ income by hiking income tax rates from 5 percent to 5.875 percent, and legislation to force collection of sales taxes on Internet purchases. Coming a year after state policymakers increased both state property taxes and gas taxes, the…

Utah’s online sales tax bill died because it had serious flaws

The Salt Lake Tribune carried an op-ed this week bemoaning Utah’s Legislature caving-in to Amazon by failing to enact an online sales tax this legislative session. While I certainly agree that the price differential is hurting Utah businesses, this bill was the wrong way to level the playing field. The primary obstacle to this bill was in its implementation. The bill declared that if internet companies advertised on a website owned by a resident or corporation (commonly called an affiliate link) that is incorporated in the state of Utah, that is enough…

Reflecting on conservatism as Legislature winds down

By Derek Monson Although the 2016 Utah Legislative Session is winding down this week, two proposals – namely, legalizing medical marijuana and banning so-called “non-compete agreements” – are forcing Utahns and policymakers to re-examine their core beliefs. Because we are in Utah, that means forcing Utahns to decide what it really means to be conservative. Just this week, the sponsor of the more expansive medical marijuana bill, SB 73, was quoted in a news story saying that he plans to move out of the country. He has been planning the…